A bill introduced in the Michigan House would ban the flying of the Pride flag – or any flag other than the Michigan or U.S. flags – from being flown from state office buildings. The bill, introduced by State Rep. Lynn Afendoulis (R-East Grand Rapids) who recently announced she is running for Congress, came about after the LGBTQ Pride flag was flown from the George W. Romney building Lansing in June. The bill has been referred to the State House Government Operations Committee but no hearing has been scheduled yet.
Still, the bill has already met opposition by Democrats, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has pledged to veto it if it makes its way to her desk.
“It is amazing that in 2019 there are still people who see the fight for equality as somehow antithetical to their own experiences or freedoms,” said state Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo). “The good news is that while their opposition may speak to how far there still is to go, they are an increasingly smaller minority of Michiganders. Hate and discrimination may still have a foothold, but it is temporary; whether or not the Pride flag can be flown on a government building won’t stop the overwhelming majority of us who are fighting on the side of progress.”
State Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia) agreed.
“Change is often slow and incremental, which is why every gain, no matter how seemingly small, is critical in the march forward,” Pohutsky said. “That’s why the governor’s show of support in the fight for equality was so important. The Pride flag, like the celebration of the month in June, is about the acknowledgment of another person’s humanity, their right to love whom they choose and the fight to remove the barriers — societal, institutional or otherwise — that prevent someone from being themselves. I genuinely can’t fathom how anyone could be opposed to that.”
Erin Knott, executive director of Equality Michigan, also spoke out against the bill.
“In an era where bigotry and hatred are once again being legitimized, members of the LGBTQ community continue to be the targets of acts of violence,” Knott said. “People are being seriously injured or killed because of who they are and who they love. Flying the Pride flag in June communicated a clear and simple message about our right to exist and to live safely in communities across Michigan. That isn’t identity politics — that is exactly what a government is supposed to do.”